Tribal Broadband Bootcamp Advances: Underground and Above

TBB 11 building tower

The Tribal Broadband Bootcamps (TBB) – a three-day intensive learning experience focused on building and running Tribal Internet networks – are becoming even more immersive as the 11th TBB is now underway at the homestead of TBB co-founder Matthew Rantanen.

As more Tribal nations build out their own broadband networks to deliver service to Indigenous communities in the most disconnected areas of North America, broadband-minded Tribal leaders and instructors continue to gather in different Tribal regions across the country several times a year for the ultimate Indian Country networking experience.

TBB 11 Matt and Spencer

This time participants descended on “RantanenTown Ranch” in Aguanga, California – part of southern California’s Inland Empire region near Temecula.

With help from ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative Director and TBB co-founder Christopher Mitchell, and a handful of other instructors, the ranch has been transformed into a working demonstration site so participants could better learn the technologies involved in constructing broadband networks, while taking a deep-dive into what it takes to operate a network.

All of the previous bootcamps offered hands-on training. But, this particular bootcamp took it up a notch as TBB instructors set up a full deployment demonstration, illustrating how fiber is buried and/or deployed aerially.

Digging In

Day 1 covers why fiber is the gold-standard of Internet connectivity. From there, the TBB cohort is broken into smaller groups as instructors plunge into how various components of a fiber network come together [handholds, vaults, Passive Optical Network (PON) equipment, splice cases]. The day even includes a bit of Fiber Community Theatre.

But, before the first full day is over, participants will also experience the labor involved in building networks, as they will get a chance to pull fiber to a wireless tower and get a frontrow seat for an aerial fiber demonstration led by ConnectAnza.

TBB 11 splicing

Day 2 continues the exploration into fiber networks when attention is turned to the ins-and-outs of fiber ring cuts, splice cases, and how fiber is spliced in the field. Later in the day, instructors will cover how to fix network problems when something breaks and other troubleshooting practices.

The final day of bootcamp will focus on wireless connectivity – from standing up a basic wireless tower to a more advanced exploration into how wireless networks function.

Seizing The Moment

The bootcamps have been hosted in different tribal regions several times a year since the initiative began in 2021 and come at a time when the federal government is making historic (albeit belated and insufficient) investments to support tribal broadband infrastructure. 

That includes an announcement this week of $58 million that the USDA is making available for Tribal communities in Nevada, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Waskawiwin logo

The bootcamps are organized by the nonprofit Waskawiwin with support and sponsorship from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), Tribal Resource Center, Democracy Fund, Calix, Merit Network, ConnectAnza, Michelson 20MM Foundation, USI Fiber, and AFL.

With a curriculum geared for Tribal citizens living in Indian Country with an expressed interest or focused commitment on improving broadband access, participants do not need previous experience, as everyone from broadband beginners to more tech savvy Tribal citizens are welcome.

You can follow TBB on Instagram here.

Below are a few more photos from all the activities underway:

TBB 11 Matt on Tractor


TBB 11 fiber thru splice case
TBB 11 splicing
TBB 11 pull fiber station group pic